Sometimes it can get lonely when you’re in business, especially if you work from home, by yourself. That’s why it’s essential to have a team of supportive people around you. Ideally, these people should include a mix of staff or team members, co-workers and colleagues, other business owners and mentors.
It’s good for all business owners to have a combination of each of the following in their support network.
It’s really important that those closest to you are supportive of what you do. Often, these are the people who give you a reason for doing what you do. They may also be the ones who can help you through the tough times. The times when you wonder if it’s all worthwhile. (And there WILL be times like this.)
Unfortunately, not every business owner has the full support of their loved ones. Often, it’s because your family or friends love and care about you so much that they’re trying to protect you from what MAY go wrong.
Wherever possible, try to find at least two people close to you whom you can depend on to cheer you on when you need it.
And if you don’t have the support of those closest to you it’s even more important that you find others to help form your cheer squad (and give you a kick up the behind when you need it!)
Mentors can come in many forms but to me, mentors are usually those people who have already succeeded in an area that you want to succeed in. More importantly, they’re happy help you achieve your goals in that area too.
Relationships with mentors are often more of a professional nature but they may be friends too. They can be an informal relationship or a more formal mentoring arrangement such as through a coach or coaching program.
A mentor should be able to guide you in the right direction, but also cheer you on when things go well and offer honest feedback when you need it.
It’s also important that your support network include others who are on the same journey as you. In this instance, we’re looking at your business support network. So therefore it’s important to have other business owners you can discuss business issues with. (Keeping confidential information off-limits, of course).
Similarly, if you’re trying to lose weight you will often find it helps to be part of a community of others trying to lose weight so you can help each other. Or if you’re a new parent you may want to mingle with other parents.
An excellent way to connect with other business owners is via online forums and groups. There are many online groups and discussion forums – including Facebook groups. These are an ideal way to connect with other like-minded business owners.
A couple of things to keep in mind though … be very careful about what you post online. Sometimes it’s best to keep things general or save the more detailed nitty-gritty for more personal conversations with those you know you can trust.
Think about it. Do you really want your clients to stumble across your online posts complaining about certain customers? Or about the staffing or financial problems you’re having?
There are also many groups where members have the opportunity to mingle face-to-face.Look for some local business groups and Chambers of Commerce in your local area. These can be excellent for networking in general, finding new customers and getting leads and referrals.
But, perhaps more importantly, once you get to know some of the other members you may find one or two (or more if you’re really lucky) whom you ‘click’ with and a friendship develops. These people may well form part of the inner circle of your support network too.
Business and industry seminars can also be a brilliant way of forming a strong support network. You may discover some of the speakers at the seminars are ideal mentors for you. Often other attendees on a similar journey as you. Meaning that you can be a great support for each other too.
When you attend seminars, don’t be shy. Make the effort to say hello to a few people and start a conversation. I’ve met several colleagues and friends that way. Some connections lasted for just a short-time, where we worked on a particular project then drifted apart. But others have gone on to become close friends and we regularly have brainstorming sessions and the likes. Best of all, we know we can rely on each other for honest feedback.
Even if you don’t connect with anyone in particular at seminars and business events, often just the vibe you get from being there is enough to help keep you motivated and on track.
I consider myself to be extremely lucky. My greatest supporter is my son. He was 5 when I began this business and has always given unwavering support and encouragement. He’s also not too shy to give me a kick in the butt when I’ve needed it too!
I have also been blessed to have found some amazing mentors, colleagues and business friends along the way.
I’m sure you’ve got plenty to do each day but I strongly urge you to take just 5 minutes now to write a list of those people in your support network.
Who can you rely on when things aren’t going to plan and you need some advice?
Next, who can give you honest feedback when you need it?
Who will listen to you vent for just a few minutes, if necessary, before helping you find an appropriate solution to your problem?
Is there someone who you can help keep you accountable, to help you follow through and take the actions you plan to?
Who will join you in a happy dance or open a bottle of bubbles to help celebrate when you achieve success … even the little successes in your journey?
And just as importantly, who can you offer the same sort of support to?
No matter how committed you are to building a successful business, there’s no doubt that having a solid support network around you will improve your chances of success.